By John Dodge
Posting in Cities
Because I work in the troubled publishing industry, I see rows of unused cubicles when I think of office space. So why don't companies use just what w...
Because I work in the troubled publishing industry, I see rows of unused cubicles when I think of office space. So why don't companies use just what we need?
We are starting to, but many industries laboring under the recession have yet to squeeze maximum efficiency from their cubicles . While an increasing number are allowing employees to work from home, others are mistrustful of letting them toil off-site.
Office buildings remain an expensive asset to own, rent and maintain despite falling rents and rising office vacancies from the current recession. Reuters just surveyed several commercial realtors in Manhattan and found that 13.4 per cent of the island's total office space will become available in the next year. Indeed, midtown Manhattan rents have nosedived 28% and 50% factoring in free months and tenant improvements, the story said.
The same scenario is playing out in cities across the the U.S., but business runs in cycles. Will commercial real estate stage a robust comeback? We keep hearing that we've hit bottom, but I wonder if a more fundamental shift is underway. Letting employees decide where they work most productively is more accepted and the economics of shuttering unused space is more favorable.
To prepare, the first question for facilities managers is to determine how of that CO2-spewing office space is fully used, says Planon Corp. CEO and founder Pierre Guelen. Planon offers "Integrated Workplace Management" software for the enterprise that focuses on space planning, maintenance, worker productivity and portfolio management. Smart facilities management took root in Europe years ago and is getting traction here. Going green is just part of the story.
"If you walk into an office, the workplace is empty 50% of the time. You need to map the space and shed what you don't actually use. That's the first [step]," says Guelen. "It costs $10,000 to put someone into a workspace."
Depending on the work's nature, companies are adopting shared work spaces, a practice called "hot-desking" which saves money and lowers the ecological impact, according to Guelen. It's not for everyone such as managers who retain personnel files, but it makes great sense for a lot of workers.
He also argues that executives who think going green is expensive are badly out of touch. Rather, companies cannot afford to continue the status quo. Certified green buildings in the U.K. get a tax break based on a green-ness scoring system known as BREEAM (in the U.S, LEED is the yardstick of green).
"Because green [in Europe] has changed from saving the planet to saving my company, it’s the CFO who’s getting involved now. The whole green idea is new in U.S, but has been around in Europe for 25 years," Guelen says. Rising demand and subsequent cost of raw materials and energy means taking space office efficiency to a new dimension.
While we're on the topic of efficiency, check out the MIT Idea Bank which holds more than a thousand ideas to make the school's shrinking dollars go farther. Using less paper and more efficient HVAC are tops on the list.
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Jun 29, 2009
We are definitely seeing increased interest in our hot-desking capabilities based on real estate pressures as mentioned above. And companies are beginning to use the "green" and mobile worker angles as a way to gain user acceptance. If you have an opportunity to avoid the commute (save time) and therefore contribute to lower carbon emissions (save the planet), you are more likely to accept a shared workspace when you do have to go to the office. But how much assigned vs shared space makes sense? How is your space actually being used day to day? The traditional measurements involved observational studies and 'bed checks' at significant consulting expense. We have created a simpler method to get the actual space utilization data required... http://blog.peoplecube.com
This is very timely information. I'm so glad to see it out here. The company I work for offers Alternative Officing (hoteling/hot desk/telework) software solutions so you can continue working seemless from wherever, but more needs to be said by those doing it about how great it is for the planet and the pocketbook alike. Thanks for writing about it! Jen Burk, Officescape
Your blog post is very insightful and I am excited to share it with my audience. I am tweeting about it as we speak. While my recently launched site, openofficespace.com, seeks to fill up unused office space with small businesses and entrepreneurs looking for great deals, the overall inventory across the nation is much too great. Your suggestions regarding how to deal with this unused space in an environmentally responsible way are valuable and need to be disseminated.
We have been living in Montana for the past 5 years and I am not suprisexshopto find it #3 on the "worst" list. Considering asexy shopmove to Idaho to escapthe high cost of living a low income in MT. There may not be a sales tax here but they get you if you own property!